God, who does not lie, promised. (Titus 1:2)
Faith is not conjuring up, through an act of your will, a sense of certainty that something is going to happen. No, it is recognizing God’s promise as an actual fact, believing it is true, rejoicing in the knowledge of that truth, and then simply resting because God said it.
Faith turns a promise into a prophecy. A promise is contingent upon our cooperation, but when we exercise genuine faith in it, it becomes a prophecy. Then we can move ahead with certainty that it will come to pass, because “God . . . does not lie.” from Days of Heaven upon Earth
I often hear people praying for more faith, but when I listen carefully to them and get to the essence of their prayer, I realize it is not more faith they are wanting at all. What they are wanting is their faith to be changed to sight.
Faith does not say, “I see this is good for me; therefore God must have sent it.” Instead, faith declares, “God sent it; therefore it must be good for me.”
Faith, when walking through the dark with God, only asks Him to hold his hand more tightly. Phillips Brooks
The Shepherd does not ask of thee
Faith in your faith, but only faith in Him;
And this He meant in saying, “Come to me.”
In light or darkness seek to do His will,
And leave the work of faith to Jesus still.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
Some time ago as I went out my door in the early spring, a blast of easterly wind rounded the corner. It seemed defiant and merciless and was fierce and dry, raising a cloud of dust ahead of it. As I removed the key from the door, I quite impatiently began to say, “I wish the wind would . . .” What I was about to say was change, but my thought was stopped and the sentence was never finished.
As I continued on my way, this incident became a parable for me. I imagined an angel handing me a key and saying, “My Master sends you His love and asked me to give you this.” Wondering, I asked, “What is it?” “It is the key to the winds,” the angel said and then disappeared.
My first thought was, “This indeed will bring me happiness.” So I hurried high into the hills to the source of the winds and stood amid the caves. I proclaimed, “I will do away with the terrible east wind—it will never plague us again!” I summoned that unfriendly wind to me, closed the door behind it, and heard it echoing through the hollow caves. As I turned the key, triumphantly locking it in, I said, “There, I am finished with that.”
Then looking around me, I asked myself, “What should I put in its place?” I thought of the warm southerly wind and how pleasant it must be to newborn lambs and new flowers and plants of all kinds. But as I put the key in the door, it began to burn my hand. I cried aloud, “What am I doing? Who knows what damage I may cause? How do I know what the fields want and need? Ten thousand problems may result from this foolish wish of mine!”
Bewildered and ashamed, I looked up and asked the Lord to send His angel to take away the key. Then I promised I would never ask for it again. To my amazement, the Lord Himself came and stood by me. He stretched out His hand to take the key, and as I placed it there, I saw it touch that sacred scar.
I was filled with remorse as I wondered how I could ever have complained about anything done by Him who bore such sacred signs of His love. Then He took the key and hung it on His belt. I asked, “Do you keep the key to the winds?” “I do, my child,” He graciously answered. And as He spoke, I noticed that all the keys to my life were hanging there as well. He saw my look of amazement and asked, “Did you not know, dear child, that my ‘kingdom rules over all’?”
“If you rule ‘over all,’” I questioned, “is it safe to complain about anything?” Then He tenderly laid His hand upon me to say, “My dear child, your only safety comes from loving, trusting, and praising Me through everything.” Mark Guy Pearse
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:32)
So why don’t I call on His name? Why do I run to this person or that person, when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down to plot my own course and make my own plans? Why don’t I immediately place myself and my burden on the Lord?
Straight ahead is the best way to run, so why don’t I run directly to the living God? Instead, I look in vain for deliverance everywhere else, but with God I will find it. With Him I have His royal promise: “[I] will be saved.” And with Him I never need to ask if I may call on Him or not, for the word “everyone” is all encompassing. It includes me and means anybody and everybody who calls upon His name. Therefore I will trust in this verse and will immediately call on the glorious Lord who has made such a great promise.
My situation is urgent, and I cannot see how I will ever be delivered. Yet this is not my concern, for He who made the promise will find a way to keep it. My part is simply to obey His commands, not to direct His ways. I am His servant, not His advisor. I call upon Him and He will deliver me. Charles H. Spurgeon
He wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. (Job 5:18)
The Ministry of Great Sorrow
As we walk beside the hills that have been so violently shaken by a severe earthquake, we realize that times of complete calm follow those of destruction. In fact, pools of clear, still water lie in the valley beneath the fallen rocks of those hills as water lilies reflect their beauty to the sky. The reeds along the streams whisper in the wind, and the village rises once again, forgetting the graves of the past. And the church steeple, still bright after weathering the storm, proclaims a renewed prayer for protection from Him who holds the corners of the earth in His hands and gives strength to the hills. John Ruskin
God plowed one day with an earthquake,
And drove His furrows deep!
The huddled plains upstarted,
The hills were all aleap!
But that is the mountains’ secret,
Long hidden in their breast;
“God’s peace is everlasting,”
Are the dream words of their rest.
He made them the haunts of beauty,
The home chosen for His grace;
He spreads forth His mornings upon them,
His sunsets light their face.
His winds bring messages to them—
Strong storm-news from the main;
They sing it down the valleys
In the love song of the rain.
They are nurseries for young rivers,
Nests for His flying cloud,
Homesteads for newborn races,
Masterful, free, and proud.
The people of tired cities
Come up to their shrines and pray;
God freshens them within again,
As He passes by all day.
And lo, I have caught their secret!
The beauty deeper than all!
This faith—that life’s hard moments,
When the jarring sorrows befall,
Are but God plowing His mountains;
And those mountains yet will be
The source of His grace and freshness,
And His peace everlasting to me.
William C. Garnett
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men...who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. (2 Chronicles 20:22)
Oh, if only we would worry less about our problems and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that shackle us that could be turned into instruments of music, if we just knew how to do it. Think of those people who ponder, meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and who continually study the mysterious inner workings of God’s providence, wondering why they suffer burdens and are opposed and battled on every front. How different their lives would be, and how much more joyful, if they would stop indulging in self-centered and inward thinking and instead would daily lift their experiences to God, praising Him for them.
It is easier to sing your worries away than to reason them away. Why not sing in the morning? Think of the birds—they are the first to sing each day, and they have fewer worries than anything else in creation. And don’t forget to sing in the evening, which is what the robins do when they have finished their daily work. Once they have flown their last flight of the day and gathered the last bit of food, they find a treetop from which to sing a song of praise.
Oh, that we might sing morning and evening, offering up song after song of continual praise throughout our day! selected
READ>> Prison to Praise
Don’t let the song go out of your life
Although it sometimes will flow
In a minor strain; it will blend again
With the major tone you know.
Although shadows rise to obscure life’s skies,
And hide for a time the sun,
The sooner they’ll lift and reveal the rift,
If you let the melody run.
Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Though the voice may have lost its trill,
Though the quivering note may die in your throat,
Let it sing in your spirit still.
Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Let it ring in your soul while here;
And when you go hence, it will follow you thence,
And live on in another sphere.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. (Psalm 25:14 KJV)
There are certain secrets of God’s providence He allows His children to learn. Often, however, at least on the surface, His dealings with them appear to be harsh and hidden. Yet faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret. You are looking only on the outside, but I look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”
Remember, diamonds are found in the rough, and their true value cannot be seen. And when the tabernacle was built in the wilderness, there was nothing ornate about its outward appearance. In fact, the outer covering of the thick hides of sea cows gave no hint of the valuable things inside.
Dear friend, God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper. But do not worry about the wrappings, for you can be sure that inside He has hidden treasures of love, kindness, and wisdom. If we will simply take what He sends and trust Him for the blessings inside, we will learn the meaning of the secrets of His providence, even in times of darkness. A. B. Simpson
Not until each loom is silent,
And the crossthreads cease to fly,
Will God unroll the pattern
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern He has planned.
A person who has Christ as his Master is the master of every circumstance. Are your circumstances pressing in on you? Do not push away, for they are the Potter’s hands. And you will learn to master them not by stopping their progress but by enduring their discipline. Your circumstances are not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor but also providing you with resources of great value.
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1)
The failure to persevere is the most common problem in prayer and intercession. We begin to pray for something, raising our petitions for a day, a week, or even a month, but then if we have not received a definite answer, we quickly give up and stop praying for it altogether.
This is a mistake with deadly consequences and is simply a trap where we begin many things but never see them completed. It leads to ruin in every area of life. People who get into the habit of starting without ever finishing form the habit of failure. And those who begin praying about something without ever praying it through to a successful conclusion form the same habit in prayer. Giving up is admitting failure and defeat. Defeat then leads to discouragement and doubt in the power of prayer, and that is fatal to the success of a person’s prayer life.
People often ask, “How long should I pray? Shouldn’t I come to the place where I stop praying and leave the matter in God’s hands?” The only answer is this: Pray until what you pray for has been accomplished or until you have complete assurance in your heart that it will be. Only when one of these two conditions has been met is it safe to stop persisting in prayer, for prayer not only is calling upon God but is also a battle with Satan. And because God uses our intercession as a mighty weapon of victory in the conflict, He alone must decide when it is safe to cease from petitioning. Therefore we dare not stop praying until either the answer itself has come or we receive assurance it will come.
In the first instance, we stop because we actually see the answer. In the second, we stop because we believe, and faith in our hearts is as trustworthy as the sight of our eyes, for it is “faith from God” (Eph. 6:23) and the “faith of God” (Rom. 3:3 KJV) that we have within us.
As we live a life of prayer, we will more and more come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance. We will know when to quietly rest in it or when to continue praying until we receive His answer. from The Practice of Prayer
Wait at God’s promise until He meets you there, for He always returns by the path of His promises. selected
Walking around in the fire. (Daniel 3:25)
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, the fire did not stop them from moving, for they were seen “walking around.” Actually, the fire was one of the streets they traveled to their destination. The comfort we have from Christ’s revealed truth is not that it teaches us freedom from sorrow but that it teaches us freedom through sorrow.
O dear God, when darkness overshadows me, teach me that I am merely traveling through a tunnel. It will then be enough for me to know that someday it will be all right.
I have been told that someday I will stand at the top of the Mount of Olives and experience the height of resurrection glory. But heavenly Father, I want more—I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of darkness are the shade on a road—the road leading to Your heavenly house. Teach me that the reason I must climb the hill is because Your house is there! Knowing this, I will not be hurt by sorrow, if I will only walk in the fire. George Matheson
“The road is too rough,” I said;
“It is uphill all the way;
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies overhead are gray.”
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.
“The cross is too great,” I cried—
“More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody near to care.”
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
“I know. I care. And I understand.”
Then why do we fret and cry;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by and by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord’s own company.
Abraham remained standing before the Lord. (Genesis 18:22)
In this chapter, Abraham pleaded with God for the lives of others. A friend of God’s can do exactly that. But perhaps you see Abraham’s level of faith and his friendship with God as something far beyond your own possibilities. Do not be discouraged, however, for Abraham grew in his faith not by giant leaps but step by step. And we can do the same.
The person whose faith has been severely tested yet who has come through the battle victoriously is the person to whom even greater tests will come. The finest jewels are those that are the most carefully cut and polished, and the most precious metals are put through the hottest fires. You can be sure Abraham would never have been called the Father of Faith had he not been tested to the utmost.
Read Genesis 22. In verse 2 God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and . . . sacrifice him.” We then see him climbing Mount Moriah with his heart heavy and yearning yet humbly obedient. He climbed with Isaac, the object of his great love, who was about to be sacrificed at the command of God—the One whom Abraham faithfully loved and served!
What a lesson this should be to us when we question God’s dealings in our lives! Rebuke all explanations that try to cast doubt on this staggering scene, for this was an object lesson for all ages! Angels also looked on in awe. Will Abraham’s faith not stand forever as a strength and a help to all God’s people? Will his trial not be a witness to the fact that unwavering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?
The answer is a resounding—yes! And once Abraham’s faith had victoriously endured its greatest test, the Angel of the Lord—the Lord Jesus, Jehovah, and He in whom the “many promises God has made . . . are ‘Yes’ . . . [and] ‘Amen’” (2 Cor. 1:20)—spoke to him and said, “Now I know that you fear God” (Gen. 22:12). The Lord said to him, in effect, “Because you have trusted me through this great trial, I will trust you, and you will forever be ‘my friend’ [Isa. 41:8].” The Lord promised Abraham, “I will surely bless you . . . and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (Gen. 22:17–18).
It is true, and always will be, that “those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9). selected
Having a friendship with God is no small thing.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord… .Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. (Psalm 27:13–14 NASB)
Do not despair!
Oh, how great the temptation is to despair at times! Our soul becomes depressed and disheartened, and our faith staggers under the severe trials and testing that come into our lives, especially during times of bereavement and suffering. We may come to the place where we say, “I cannot bear this any longer. I am close to despair under these circumstances God has allowed. He tells me not to despair, but what am I supposed to do when I am at this point?”
What have you done in the past when you felt weak physically? You could not do anything. You ceased from doing. In your weakness, you leaned on the shoulder of a strong loved one. You leaned completely on someone else and rested, becoming still, and trusting in another’s strength.
It is the same when you are tempted to despair under spiritual afflictions. Once you have come close to the point of despair, God’s message is not, “Be strong and courageous” (Josh. 1:6), for He knows that your strength and courage have run away. Instead, He says sweetly, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
Hudson Taylor was so weak and feeble in the last few months of his life that he told a friend, “I am so weak I cannot write. I cannot read my Bible. I cannot even pray. All I can do is lie still in the arms of God as a little child, trusting Him.” This wonderful man of God, who had great spiritual power, came to the point of physical suffering and weakness where all he could do was lie still and trust.
That is all God asks of you as His dear child. When you become weak through the fierce fires of affliction, do not try to “be strong.” Just “be still, and know that [He is] God.” And know that He will sustain you and bring you through the fire.
God reserves His best medicine for our times of deepest despair.
Be strong and take heart. Psalm 27:14
Be strong, He has not failed you
In all the past,
And will He go and leave you
To sink at last?
No, He said He will hide you
Beneath His wing;
And sweetly there in safety
You then may sing.
We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:12)
It may seem paradoxical, but the only person who is at rest has achieved it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the ominous lull before the storm but like the serenity and the quietness following the storm, with its fresh, purified air.
The person who may appear to be blessed, having been untouched by sorrow, is typically not one who is strong and at peace. His qualities have never been tested, and he does not know how he would handle even a mild setback. The safest sailor is certainly not one who has never weathered a storm. He may be right for fair-weather sailing, but when a storm arises, wouldn’t you want an experienced sailor at the critical post? Wouldn’t you want one at the helm who has fought through a gale and who knows the strength of the ship’s hull and rigging, and how the anchor may be used to grasp the rocks of the ocean floor?
Oh, how everything gives way when affliction first comes upon us! The clinging stems of our hopes are quickly snapped, and our heart lies overwhelmed and prostrate, like a vine the windstorm has torn from its trellis. But once the initial shock is over and we are able to look up and say, “It is the Lord” (John 21:7), faith begins to lift our shattered hopes once more and securely binds them to the feet of God. And the final result is confidence, safety, and peace. selected
The adverse winds blew against my life;
My little ship with grief was tossed;
My plans were gone—heart full of strife,
And all my hope seemed to be lost—
“Then He arose”—one word of peace.
“There was a calm”—a sweet release.
A tempest great of doubt and fear
Possessed my mind; no light was there
To guide, or make my vision clear.
Dark night! ’twas more than I could bear—
“Then He arose,” I saw His face—
“There was a calm” filled with His grace.
My heart was sinking ’neath the wave
Of deepening test and raging grief;
All seemed as lost, and none could save,
And nothing could bring me relief—
“Then He arose”—and spoke one word,
“There was a calm! ”IT IS THE LORD.”
Everything is possible for him who believes. (Mark 9:23)
The “everything” mentioned here does not always come simply by asking, because God is always seeking to teach you the way of faith. Your training for a life of faith requires many areas of learning, including the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, and the courage of faith. Often you will pass through many stages before you finally realize the result of faith—namely, the victory of faith.
Genuine moral fiber is developed by enduring the discipline of faith. When you have made your request to God, and the answer still has not come, what are you to do? Keep on believing His Word! Never be swayed from it by what you may see or feel. Then as you stand firm, your power and experience is being developed, strengthened, and deepened. When you remain unswayed from your stance of faith, even in view of supposed contradictions to God’s Word, you grow stronger on every front.
God will often purposely delay in giving you His answer, and in fact the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes. He worked this way in the lives of all the great Bible characters. Abraham, Moses, and Elijah were not great in the beginning but made great through the discipline of their faith. Only through that discipline were they then equipped for the work to which God had called them.
Think, for example, of Joseph, whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt. Psalm 105:19 (KJV) says, “The word of the Lord tried him.” It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that “tried him” but “the word of the Lord.” The words God spoke into his heart in his early years, concerning his elevated place of honor above his brothers, were the words that were always before him. He remained alone in prison, in spite of his innocence, and watched others being released who were justly incarcerated. Yet he remembered God’s words even when every step of his career made fulfillment seem more and more impossible.
These were the times that tried his soul, but they were also the times of his spiritual growth and development. Then when word of his release from prison finally came, he was found ready and equipped for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brothers. And he was able to do so with a love and a patience only surpassed by God Himself.
No amount of persecution will try you as much as experiences like these—ones in which you are required to wait on God. Once He has spoken His promise to work, it is truly hard to wait as you see the days go by with no fulfillment. Yet it is this discipline of faith that will bring you into a knowledge of God that would otherwise be impossible.
We do not know what we ought to pray for. (Romans 8:26)
Often it is simply the answers to our prayers that cause many of the difficulties in the Christian life. We pray for patience, and our Father sends demanding people our way who test us to the limit, “because . . . suffering produces perseverance” (Rom. 5:3). We pray for a submissive spirit, and God sends suffering again, for we learn to be obedient in the same way Christ “learned obedience from what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
We pray to be unselfish, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice by placing other people’s needs first and by laying down our lives for other believers. We pray for strength and humility, and “a messenger of Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7) comes to torment us until we lie on the ground pleading for it to be withdrawn.
We pray to the Lord, as His apostles did, saying, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Then our money seems to take wings and fly away; our children become critically ill; an employee becomes careless, slow, and wasteful; or some other new trial comes upon us, requiring more faith than we have ever before experienced.
We pray for a Christlike life that exhibits the humility of a lamb. Then we are asked to perform some lowly task, or we are unjustly accused and given no opportunity to explain, for “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and . . . did not open his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).
We pray for gentleness and quickly face a storm of temptation to be harsh and irritable. We pray for quietness, and suddenly every nerve is stressed to its limit with tremendous tension so that we may learn that when He sends His peace, no one can disturb it.
We pray for love for others, and God sends unique suffering by sending people our way who are difficult to love and who say things that get on our nerves and tear at our heart. He does this because “love is patient, love is kind. . . . It is not rude,... it is not easily angered. . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4–5, 7–8).
Yes, we pray to be like Jesus, and God’s answer is: “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10); “Will your courage endure or your hands be strong?” (Ezek. 22:14); “Can you drink the cup?” (Matt. 20:22).
The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance and every trial as being straight from the hand of our loving Father; to live “with him in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 2:6), above the clouds, in the very presence of His throne; and to look down from glory on our circumstances as being lovingly and divinely appointed. selected
I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.
I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.
I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber free from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and perfect peace I knew.
I thank You, Lord, You were too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Your bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Your own giving, better than my best.
Annie Johnson Flint
On that very day Abraham [did] . . . as God told him. (Genesis 17:23)
Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is, for delayed obedience is disobedience. Each time God calls upon us to do something, He is offering to make a covenant with us. Our part is to obey, and then He will do His part to send a special blessing.
The only way to be obedient is to obey instantly—“On that very day,” as Abraham did. I know we often postpone doing what we know to do, and then later do it as well as we can. Certainly this is better than not doing it at all. By then, however, it is at best only a crippled, disfigured, and partial attempt toward obedience. Postponed obedience can never bring us the full blessing God intended or what it would have brought had we obeyed at the earliest possible moment.
What a pity it is how we rob ourselves, as well as God and others, by our procrastination! Remember, “On that very day” is the Genesis way of saying, “Do it now!” from Messages for the Morning Watch
Martin Luther once said, “A true believer will crucify, or put to death, the question, ‘Why?’ He will simply obey without questioning.” And I refuse to be one of those people who “unless . . . [I] see miraculous signs and wonders . . . will never believe” (John 4:48). I will obey without questioning.
Ours not to make reply,
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and die.
Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience is the early blossom on the tree of faith. Christina Rossetti
Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds. (Job 37:21 KJV)
Much of the world’s beauty is due to clouds. The unchanging blue of a beautiful, sunlit sky still does not compare to the glory of changing clouds. And earth would become a wilderness if not for their ministry to us.
Human life has its clouds as well. They provide us with shade, refresh us, yet sometimes cover us with the darkness of night. But there is never a cloud without its “bright light.” God has told us, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds” (Gen. 9:13). If only we could see clouds from above—in all their billowing glory, bathed in reflective light, and as majestic as the Alps— we would be amazed at their shining magnificence.
We see them only from below, so who will describe for us the “bright light” that bathes their summits, searches their valleys, and reflects from every peak of their expanse? Doesn’t every drop of rain in them soak up health-giving qualities, which will later fall to earth?
O dear child of God! If only you could see your sorrows and troubles from above instead of seeing them from earth. If you would look down on them from where you are seated “with Christ . . . in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 2:6), you would know the beauty of the rainbow of colors they reflect to the hosts of heaven. You would also see the “bright light” of Christ’s face and would finally be content to see those clouds cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of your life.
Remember, clouds are always moving ahead of God’s cleansing wind. selected
I cannot know why suddenly the storm
Should rage so fiercely round me in its wrath;
But this I know—God watches all my path,
And I can trust.
I may not draw aside the unseen veil
That hides the unknown future from my sight,
Nor know if for me waits the dark or light;
But I can trust.
I have no power to look across the tide,
To see while here the land beyond the river;
But this I know—I will be God’s forever;
So I can trust.
Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. (Daniel 10:12–13)
This passage is a wonderful teaching on prayer and shows us the direct hindrance Satan can be in our lives. Daniel had fasted and prayed for twenty-one difficult days. As far as we can tell from the biblical account, the difficulty came not because Daniel was not a good person nor because his prayer was not right but because of a special attack from Satan.
The Lord had sent His angelic messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment he began to pray, but the good angel was hindered by an evil angel who met him along the way and wrestled with him. This conflict occurred in the heavens, yet Daniel experienced the same kind of conflict here on earth as he agonized in prayer.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,... and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). Satan’s attack and the ensuing struggle delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel was nearly defeated, and Satan would have been glad to kill him, but God would not allow anything to come upon Daniel beyond what he could bear. (See 1 Cor. 10:13.)
Many prayers of believers are hindered by Satan. Yet you do not need to fear when your unanswered prayers are piling up, for soon they will break through like a flood. When that happens, not only will your answers flow through but they will also be accompanied by new blessings. from a sermon
Hell works the hardest on God’s saints. The most worthy souls will be tested with the most pressure and the highest heat, but heaven will not desert them. William L. Watkinson
After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses . . . in the desert... .Then the Lord said to him, “. . . Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.” (Acts 7:30, 33–34)
Often the Lord calls us aside from our work for a season and asks us to be still and learn before we go out again to minister. And the hours spent waiting are not lost time.
An ancient knight once realized, as he was fleeing from his enemies, that his horse needed a shoe replaced. The prudent course of action seemed to be to hurry on without delay. Yet higher wisdom told him to stop for a few minutes at the blacksmith’s along the road. Although he heard the galloping hooves of the enemies’ horses close behind, he waited until his steed was reshod before continuing his escape. Just as the enemy appeared, only a hundred yards away, he jumped into the saddle and dashed away with the swiftness of the wind. Then he knew his stopping had actually hastened his escape.
Quite often God will ask us to wait before we go, so we may fully recover from our last mission before entering the next stage of our journey and work. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till next steps made plain will be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.
Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that need not grow dim;
The Master is pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.
Waiting! Expectantly waiting!
Perhaps it may be today
The Master will quickly open
The gate to my future way.
Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting!
I know, though I’ve waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong.
Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting!
The Master will not be late:
Since He knows that I am waiting
For Him to unlatch the gate.
We were under great pressure,... so that we despaired even of life.... But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)
Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length;
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
The pressure of difficult times makes us value life. Every time our life is spared and given back to us after a trial, it is like a new beginning. We better understand its value and thereby apply ourselves more effectively for God and for humankind. And the pressure we endure helps us to understand the trials of others, equipping us to help them and to sympathize with them.
Some people have a shallowness about them. With their superficial nature, they lightly take hold of a theory or a promise and then carelessly tell of their distrust of those who retreat from every trial. Yet a man or woman who has experienced great suffering will never do this. They are very tender and gentle, and understand what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death is at work in us” (2 Cor. 4:12).
Trials and difficult times are needed to press us forward. They work in the way the fire in the hold of a mighty steamship provides the energy that moves the pistons, turns the engine, and propels the great vessel across the sea, even when facing the wind and the waves. A. B. Simpson
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder... . Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, saying, “Praise be to the Lord, . . . who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness.” (Genesis 24:15, 26–27)
Every godly prayer is answered before the prayer itself is finished—“Before he had finished praying . . .” This is because Christ has pledged in His Word, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 16:23). When you ask in faith and in Christ’s name—that is, in oneness with Him and His will—“it will be given you” (John 15:7).
Since God’s Word cannot fail, whenever we meet these simple conditions, the answer to our prayer has already been granted and is complete in heaven as we pray, even though it may not be revealed on earth until much later. Therefore it is wise to close every prayer with praise to God for the answer He has already given.
“Praise be to the Lord, . . . who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness.” (See Dan. 9:20–27; 10:12.) from Messages for the Morning Watch
When we believe God for a blessing, we must have an attitude of faith and begin to act and pray as if the blessing were already ours. We should respond to God as if He has granted our request. This attitude of trust means leaning upon Him for what we have claimed and simply taking it for granted that He has given us our request and will continue to give it.
When people get married, they immediately have a new perspective and begin to act accordingly. This is how it should be when we take Christ as our Savior, our Sanctifier, our Healer, or our Deliverer. He expects us to have a new perspective, in which we recognize Him in the capacity and the role we have trusted Him for, and in which we allow Him to be everything to us we have claimed by faith. selected
The thing I ask when God leads me to pray,
Begins in that same act to come my way.
Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)
God is a thousand times more meticulous with us than even an artist is with his canvas. Using many brush strokes of sorrow, and circumstances of various colors, He paints us into the highest and best image He visualizes, if we will only receive His bitter gifts of myrrh in the right spirit.
Yet when our cup of sorrows is taken away and the lessons in it are suppressed or go unheeded, we do more damage to our soul than could ever be repaired. No human heart can imagine the incomparable love God expresses in His gift of myrrh. However, this great gift that our soul should receive is allowed to pass by us because of our sleepy indifference, and ultimately nothing comes of it.
Then, in our barrenness we come and complain, saying, “O Lord, I feel so dry, and there is so much darkness within me!” My advice to you, dear child, is to open your heart to the pain and suffering, and it will accomplish more good than being full of emotion and sincerity. Tauler
The cry of man’s anguish went up to God,
“Lord, take away pain:
The shadow that darkens the world You have made,
The close, choking chain
That strangles the heart, the burden that weighs
On the wings that would soar,
Lord, take away pain from the world
You have made,
That it love You the more.”
Then answered the Lord to the cry of His world:
“Shall I take away pain,
And with it the power of the soul to endure,
Made strong by the strain?
Shall I take away pity, that knits heart to heart
And sacrifice high?
Will you lose all your heroes that lift from the fire
Wisdom toward the sky?
Shall I take away love that redeems with a price
And smiles at the loss?
Can you spare from your lives that would climb unto Me
The Christ on His cross?”
I remembered my songs in the night. (Psalm 77:6)
I read somewhere of a little bird that will never sing the song its owner desires to hear while its cage is full of light. It may learn a note of this or a measure of that but will never learn an entire song until its cage is covered and the sunlight is shut out.
Many people are the same, never learning to sing until the shadows of darkness fall. We need to remember: the fabled nightingale sings with its breast against a thorn; it was on that Bethlehem night the song of angels was heard; and it was “at midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’” (Matt. 25:6).
It is indeed extremely doubtful that a person’s soul can really know the love of God in its richness and in its comforting, satisfying completeness until the skies are dark and threatening. Light emerges from darkness, and morning is born from the womb of night.
James Creelman once journeyed through the Balkans in search of Natalie, the exiled queen of Serbia. In one of his letters, he described his trip this way:
During that memorable journey, I learned that the world’s supply of rose oil comes from the Balkan Mountains. The thing that interested me most was that the roses had to be gathered during the darkest hours, with the pickers starting at one o’clock and finishing by two. Initially this practice seemed to me to be a relic of superstition or tradition, but as I investigated further, I learned that actual scientific tests had proved that a full forty percent of the fragrance of the roses disappeared in the light of day.
And it is also a real and unquestionable fact of human life and culture that a person’s character is strengthened most during the darkest days. Malcolm J. McLeod
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. (Psalm 37:5)
The literal meaning of this verse is: “Roll your way onto Jehovah and trust upon Him, and He works.” This brings to our attention the immediacy of God’s action once we commit, or “roll,” burdens of any kind from our hands into His. Whether our burden is a sorrow, difficulty, physical need, or concern over the salvation of a loved one, “He works.”
When does He work? “He works” now. We act as if God does not immediately accept our trust in Him and thereby delays accomplishing what we ask Him to do. We fail to understand that “He works” as we commit. “He works” now! Praise Him for the fact that this is true.
Our expectation that He will work is the very thing enabling the Holy Spirit to accomplish what we have “rolled” onto Him. At that point it is out of our grasp, and we are not to try to do it ourselves. “He works!” Take comfort from this and do not try to pick it up again. What a relief there is in knowing He really is at work on our difficulty!
And when someone says, “But I don’t see any results,” pay him no attention.
“He works” if you have “rolled” your burdens onto Him and are “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2 KJV) to do it. Your faith may be tested, but “He works.” His Word is true! V. H. F.
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2
One beautiful old translation of this verse says, “He will perform the cause I hold in my hand.” That makes it very real to me today. The very thing “I hold in my hand”—my work today, this concern that is beyond my control, this task in which I have greatly overestimated my own abilities—this is what I may “cry out” for Him to do “for me,” with the calm assurance He will perform it. “The wise and what they do are in God’s hands” (Eccl. 9:1). Frances Ridley Havergal
The Lord will follow through on His covenant promises. Whatever He takes and holds in His hand He will accomplish. Therefore His past mercies are guarantees for the future, and worthy reasons for continuing to cry out to Him. Charles H. Spurgeon
They were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. (Psalm 107:27– 28)
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
The Burden-Bearer stands.
Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who fails you not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
Do not get discouraged—it may be the last key on the ring that opens the door. Stansifer
~ Beata in Florida
In the beginning of my RJ, I was told repeatedly to wait on the lord, in God's perfect timing, His will and not my own. This was not what I wanted to hear! I wanted things my way, and right now! But, praise His kind lovingness, He had other plans for me. What a relief it was to realize that I'm just a passenger, after reading the devotional today I know that I can relinquish the controls to the ship and let Him be the captain! Struggling and striving against my situation only made me weary and frustrated. What a waste of time! Only when I surrendered my will over to Him did I feel a sense of peace. All will be well because He is in control of everything!
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. (Genesis 21:2)
The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Ps. 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait on God’s timing. His timing is precise, for He does things “at the very time” He has set. It is not for us to know His timing, and in fact we cannot know it—we must wait for it.
If God had told Abraham while he was in Haran that he would have to wait thirty years before holding his promised child in his arms, his heart might have failed him. So God, as an act of His gracious love, hid from Abraham the number of weary years he would be required to wait. Only as the time was approaching, with but a few months left to wait, did God reveal His promise: “At the appointed time next year . . . Sarah will have a son” (Gen. 18:14). The “appointed time” came at last, and soon the joyous laughter that filled the patriarch’s home caused the now elderly couple to forget their long and tiring wait.
So take heart, dear child, when God requires you to wait. The One you wait for will not disappoint you. He will never be even five minutes behind “the appointed time.” And soon “your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20).
Oh, how joyful the soul that God brings to laughter! Then sorrow and crying flee forever, as darkness flees the dawn. selected
As passengers, it is not for us to interfere with the charts and the compass. We should leave the masterful Captain alone to do His own work. Robert Hall
Some things cannot be accomplished in a day. Even God does not make a glorious sunset in a moment. For several days He gathers the mist with which to build His beautiful palaces in the western sky.
Some glorious morn—but when? Ah, who will say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things will be on God’s appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow—yet it may.
I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10)
Oh, if only Job had known, as he sat in the ashes, troubling his heart over the thought of God’s providence, that millions down through history would look back on his trials. He might have taken courage in the fact that his experience would be a help to others throughout the world.
No one lives to himself, and Job’s story is like yours and mine, only his was written for all to see. The afflictions Job faced and the trials he wrestled with are the very things for which he is remembered, and without them we would probably never have read of him in God’s Word.
We never know the trials that await us in the days ahead. We may not be able to see the light through our struggles, but we can believe that those days, as in the life of Job, will be the most significant we are called upon to live. Robert Collyer
Who has not learned that our most sorrowful days are frequently our best? The days when our face is full of smiles and we skip easily through the soft meadow God has adorned with spring flowers, the capacity of our heart is often wasted.
The soul that is always lighthearted and cheerful misses the deepest things of life. Certainly that life has its reward and is fully satisfied, but the depth of its satisfaction is very shallow. Its heart is dwarfed, and its nature, which has the potential of experiencing the highest heights and the deepest depths, remains undeveloped. And the wick of its life burns quickly to the bottom, without ever knowing the richness of profound joy.
Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matt. 5:4). Stars shine the brightest during the long dark night of winter. And the gentian wildflowers display their fairest blooms among the nearly inaccessible heights of mountain snow and ice.
God seems to use the pressure of pain to trample out the fulfillment of His promises and thereby release the sweetest juice of His winepress. Only those who have known sorrow can fully appreciate the great tenderness of the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3). selected
You may be experiencing little sunshine, but the long periods of gloomy darkness have been wisely designed for you, for perhaps a lengthy stretch of summer weather would have made you like parched land or a barren wilderness. Your Lord knows best, and the clouds and the sun wait for His command. selected
When told, “It’s a gray day,” an old Scottish cobbler once replied, “Yes, but didn’t ya see the patch of blue?”
Spring up, O well! Sing about it. (Numbers 21:17)
This was a strange song and a strange well. The children of Israel had been traveling over the desert’s barren sands, and they were desperate for water, but there was none in sight. Then God spoke to Moses and said, “Gather the people together and I will give them water” (v. 16).
The people then gathered around with their rods. As they began to dig deeply into the burning sand, they sang, “Spring up, O well! Sing about it.” Soon a gurgling sound was heard, and suddenly a rush of water appeared, filling the well and running along the ground. As they had dug the well in the desert, they had tapped the stream that ran below and that had been unseen for a very long time.
What a beautiful picture this is! And it describes for us the river of blessings that flows through our lives. If only we will respond with faith and praise, we will find our needs supplied even in the most barren desert.
Again, how did the children of Israel reach the water of this well? It was through praise. While standing on the burning sand and digging the well with their staff of promise, they sang a praise song of faith.
Our praise will bring forth “water . . . in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isa. 35:6), while complaining will only bring judgment. Even prayer by itself may fail to reach the fountain of blessings.
Nothing pleases the Lord as much as praise. There is no greater evidence of faith than the virtue of genuine thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough? Are you thanking Him for the countless blessings He has bestowed on you? Are you boldly praising Him even for the trials in your life, which are actually blessings in disguise? And have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come? selected
You’re waiting for deliverance!
O soul, you’re waiting long!
Believe that your deliverance
Does wait for you in song!
Complain not till deliverance
Your fettered feet does free:
Through songs of glad deliverance
God now surroundeth thee.
Bring them here to me. (Matthew 14:18)
Do you find yourself at this very moment surrounded with needs, and nearly overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies? Each of these is God’s way of providing vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill. If you correctly understand their meaning, you will see them as opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverance you can receive in no other way.
The Lord is saying to you, “Bring them here to me.” Firmly hold the vessels before Him, in faith and in prayer. Remain still before Him, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He Himself has not commanded you to do. Allow God time to work and He surely will. Then the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster will become God’s opportunity to reveal His grace and glory in your life, in ways you have never known before.
“Bring [your needs] here to me.” A. B. Simpson
My God will meet all your needs according to his
glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
What a source—“God”! What a supply—“his glorious riches”! What a channel—“Christ Jesus”! It is your heavenly privilege to trust “all your needs” to “his glorious riches,” and to forget “your needs” in the presence of “his . . . riches.” In His great love, He has thrown open to you His exhaustive treasury. Go in and draw upon Him in simple childlike faith, and you will never again have the need to rely on anything else. C. H. M.
My Cup Overflows (Ps. 23:5)
There is always something “over,”
When we trust our gracious Lord;
Every cup is overflowing,
His great rivers all are broad.
Nothing narrow, nothing sparing,
Ever springing from His store;
To His own He gives full measure,
There is always something “over,”
When we, from the Father’s hand,
Take our portion with thanksgiving,
Praising for the path He planned.
Satisfaction, full and deepening,
Fills the soul, and lights the eye,
When the heart has trusted Jesus
All its needs to satisfy.
There is always something “over,”
When we tell of all His love;
Unreached depths still lie beneath us,
Unscaled heights rise far above:
Human lips can never utter
All His wondrous tenderness,
We can only praise and wonder,
And His name forever bless.
Margaret E. Barber
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” . . .Then he blessed him there. (Genesis 32:26, 29)
Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging. His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last.
We too will not win the victory in prayer until we cease our struggling. We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith.
What can our feeble human strength take by force from the hand of omnipotence? Are we able to wrestle blessings from God by force? Strong-willed violence on our part will never prevail with Him. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.
It is not applying pressure or insisting upon our own will that brings victory. It is won when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
We are strong with God only to the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith. J. R. Miller
An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher illustrates how “wrestling prayer” is actually a hindrance to prevailing prayer. He shared this story: “My little boy, Frank, was very ill, and the doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I used all the prayer knowledge I possessed on his behalf, but he continued to worsen. This went on for several weeks.
“One day as I stood watching him while he lay on his bed, I realized he could not live much longer without a quick turn for the better. I said to the Lord, ‘Oh, God, I have spent much time in prayer for my son, and yet he is no better. I will now leave him to You and give myself to prayer for others. If it is Your will to take him, I choose Your will—I surrender him entirely to You.’
“I called in my dear wife and told her what I had done. She shed some tears but also handed him over to God. Two days later a godly man came to visit us. He had been very interested in our son Frank and had prayed often for him. He told us, ‘God has given me faith to believe that your son will recover. Do you have that faith?’
“I responded, ‘I have surrendered him to God, but I will now go again to Him regarding my son.’ I did just that and while in prayer discovered I had faith for his recovery. From that time forward he began to get better. I then realized that it was the ‘wrestling’ of my prayers that had hindered God’s answer, and that if I had continued to wrestle, being unwilling to surrender him to God, he would probably not be here today.”
O dear child of God, if you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to “walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had” (Rom. 4:12), even to the mountain of sacrifice.
I have called you friends. (John 15:15)
Years ago there was an old German professor whose beautiful life was a wonder to his students. Some of them were determined to learn the secret of it, so one night they sent someone to hide in the study where the professor spent his evenings.
It was quite late when the teacher finally came. He was very tired but sat down and spent one hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in silent prayer, and finally closing the Book of books, he said, “Well, Lord Jesus, we still have the same old relationship.”
“To know Christ” (Phil. 3:10) is life’s greatest achievement. At all costs, every Christian should strive to “have the same old relationship” with Him.
The reality of knowing Jesus comes as a result of hidden prayer, and personal Bible study that is devotional and consistent in nature. Christ becomes more real to those who persist in cultivating His presence.
Speak unto Him for He hears you,
And Spirit with spirit will meet!
Nearer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.
Maltbie D. Babcock
No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)
Certain songs can only be learned in the valley. No music school can teach them, for no theory can cause them to be perfectly sung. Their music is found in the heart. They are songs remembered through personal experience, revealing their burdens through the shadows of the past, and soaring on the wings of yesterday.
In this verse, John tells us that even in heaven there will be a song that will only be sung by those “who had been redeemed from the earth.” It is undoubtedly a song of triumph—a hymn of victory to the Christ who set us free. Yet the sense of triumph and freedom will be born from the memory of our past bondage.
No angel, nor even an archangel, will be able to sing the song as beautifully as we will. To do so would require them to pass through our trials, which is something they cannot do. Only the children of the Cross will be equipped to learn the song.
Therefore, dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from your Father. You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot yet see, and there will be parts in the chorus that only you can sing. There will be notes too low for the angels to reach, and certain notes so far above the scale that only an angel could reach them. But remember, the deepest notes belong to you and will only be reached by you.
Your Father is training you for a part the angels cannot sing, and His conservatory is the school of sorrows. Others have said that He sends sorrow to test you, yet this is not the case. He sends sorrow to educate you, thereby providing you with the proper training for His heavenly choir.
In the darkest night He is composing your song. In the valley He is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds He is deepening your range. In the rain showers He is sweetening your melody. In the cold He is giving your notes expression. And as you pass at times from hope to fear, He is perfecting the message of your lyrics.
O dear soul, do not despise your school of sorrow. It is bestowing on you a unique part in the heavenly song. George Matheson
Is the midnight closing ’round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He’ll give you a new, sweet song.
He’ll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness slows you down,
He’ll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.
And many a heavenly singer
Among those sons of light,
Will say of His sweetest music,
“I learned it in the night.”
And many a lovely anthem,
That fills the Father’s home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darkened room.
You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. (Job 5:26)
A man who once wrote about the salvaging of old ships stated that it was not the age of the wood from the vessel alone that improved its quality. The straining and the twisting of the ship by the sea, the chemical reaction produced by the bilgewater, and the differing cargoes also had an effect.
Several years ago some boards and veneers cut from an oak beam from an eighty-year-old ship were exhibited at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway in New York City. They attracted attention, because of their elegant coloring and beautiful grain. Equally striking were some mahogany beams taken from a ship that sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years of travel had constricted the pores of the wood and deepened its colors, so that they were as magnificent and bright as those of an antique Chinese vase. The wood has since been used to make a cabinet that sits in a place of honor in the living room of a wealthy New York family.
There is also a great difference between the quality of elderly people who have lived listless, self-indulgent, and useless lives and the quality of those who have sailed through rough seas, carrying cargo and burdens as servants of God, and as helpers of others. In the latter group, not only has the stress and strain of life seeped into their lives but the aroma of the sweetness of their cargo has also been absorbed into the very pores of each fiber of their character. Louis Albert Banks
When the sun finally drops below the horizon in the early evening, evidence of its work remains for some time. The skies continue to glow for a full hour after its departure.
In the same way, when a good or a great person’s life comes to its final sunset, the skies of this world are illuminated until long after he is out of view. Such a person does not die from this world, for when he departs he leaves much of himself behind—and being dead, he still speaks. Henry Ward Beecher
When Victor Hugo was more than eighty years old, he expressed his faith in this beautiful way: “Within my soul I feel the evidence of my future life. I am like a forest that has been cut down more than once, yet the new growth has more life than ever. I am always rising toward the sky, with the sun shining down on my head. The earth provides abundant sap for me, but heaven lights my way to worlds unknown.
“People say the soul is nothing but the effect of our bodily powers at work. If that were true, then why is my soul becoming brighter as my body begins to fail? Winter may be filling my head, but an eternal spring rises from my heart. At this late hour of my life, I smell the fragrance of lilacs, violets, and roses, just as I did when I was twenty. And the closer I come to the end of my journey, the more clearly I hear the immortal symphonies of eternal worlds inviting me to come. It is awe-inspiring yet profoundly simple.”